Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley welcomed eight men into the priesthood, May 20, during a Mass of Ordination at Immaculate Conception Church in Lowell.
The 1,000 seat church was filled beyond capacity with family, friends, parishioners and clergy as the ordinands entered the church and took their seats at the front of the church according to the seminary in which they were formed: Fathers Jason Giombetti, Godfrey Musabe, Americo Santos and William Sexton from St. John's Seminary; Fathers Pablo Gomis and Wellington De Oliveira from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary; and Fathers Kevin Leaver and Michael Zimmerman from the Pontifical North American College.
The ordination was held at Immaculate Conception rather than at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross because the cathedral is being prepared for potential future renovations.
In his greeting at the start of the ordination Mass, the cardinal expressed his joy that the ordination class represented the ethnic diversity of the archdiocese, seeing the ordination of two Hispanic priests, Fathers Gomis and Santos; a Brazilian priest, Father Oliveira; and the first Ugandan priest ordained for the archdiocese, Father Musabe.
"We are grateful to God for these eight men, who are answering a call to serve and dedicate their lives to carry out the very mission of Jesus Christ and help others find the path that leads to God," Cardinal O'Malley said in his homily.
"My brothers, your vocation is a part of God's plan for humanity," he continued.
The cardinal spoke about Jesus' command to love one another, which he described as the core of a priest's existence, and said that as Jesus' disciples and as members of the Church, we "must love each other the way that He loves us."
It is by loving each other the way that Jesus loves us that "people will know we are Jesus' disciples," he said.
"Jesus' love for us is the measuring stick of our love for each other," said the cardinal.
He offered the newly ordained advice, advising that people want to see "our priests a man of God, one who is a friend of Christ" and one who shows his love and his faith.
There will be many people searching for hope, searching for reasons to continue the faith, and as priests, you should share your own reasons and your own faith with them, the cardinal said to the newly ordained.
"A priest has a vital role in building a community" of faith, he said.
"A community is like a family; there are difficult moments but we must never give up on each other."
As priests, Cardinal O'Malley continued, you will be required to make sacrifices and maintain obedience to God, to be where He "calls us to be."
It is only in self-surrender and in service that a priest can truly find himself, he said.
"In an age of the selfie stick, a priest must renounce self, put on Christ and live for others," the cardinal said.
As the Rite of Ordination began, each man stood and answered "present" as his name was called, as Msgr. James P. Moroney, rector of St. John Seminary, presented the candidates to the cardinal. The cardinal elected the men for ordination with the consent of the friends, family and supporters of the candidates to a round of applause, which signified their approval.
The rite continued following the homily, with each candidate approaching the cardinal and promising obedience to the cardinal and his successors. The candidates then lay prostrate before the altar during the Litany of Supplication.
Cardinal O'Malley then laid his hands on each of the men's heads, followed by each of the priests present.
After the laying-on of hands and the prayer of consecration, the investiture with stole and chasuble, and anointing of their hands followed.
The cardinal then handed each of the eight new priests a paten and chalice before they joined him at the altar to concelebrate the Mass, where the newly ordained joined their brothers to participate in the Communion Rite as priests for the first time.
Following the Mass, newly ordained Father Godfrey Musabe expressed his elation at being ordained a priest.
"The feeling cannot be described in words, really," but "I feel so blessed, so lucky, and really empowered by the Holy Spirit."
He said, a number of his family and friends traveled from Uganda to attend the ordination, which Father Musabe called "a blessing."
Rose Dyer is the aunt of Father Will Sexton, and said it "was wonderful" seeing her nephew ordained.
"I enjoyed that very much," she said, adding that she had a "front row seat" because she is in a wheelchair.
She said she and her family always thought Father Sexton would become a priest.
"He's a good kid. Been a good kid since he was born," she said with a laugh.
Heather Flynn attended the ordination because she knows three of the eight new priests -- Fathers Will Sexton, Mike Zimmerman, and Kevin Leaver -- through her experience with the LifeTeen program.
Seeing them ordained today "makes me feel old," she said, laughing.
"It's such a blessing to be here today and see them become what God created them to be."